You’re happy. You don’t feel lonely. You’re active. You find yourself smiling more. If you’re a dog owner, you instinctively know that you’ve got it good. Dog ownership isn’t just about the fun, it’s about enhancing your life and sharing it with another being – in this case, a furball who wants to sit in your lap, lick your face all night long and protect the house (even if they’re just 10 pounds).
No, you’re not crazy and you’re not just bitten by the Doggie Love Bug. Science backs your claims as does other research: there are a billion wonderful benefits of dog ownership. Here, we’ve gathered just a few.
Don’t dogs just make you feel good? You’re not imagining it – they do! Studies have shown that by owning a dog, you may experience a lower heart rate and lower cortisol level, a hormone linked to stress. Having a 24/7 cuddle companion really does do the trick.
There’s also something to be said about feeling constantly supported, even if it’s not coming from a human. Dog are with you; they meet you where you’re at. Not only are they right by your side, but they are tuned into your feelings and through that, they can offer you a continuous stream of therapeutic benefits. This can help lower your stress, your anxiety and just offer you a sense of calm, no matter what life is throwing at you.
More movement, more exercise. As much as dogs love to be at your side, they also want to run, wrestle, explore, walk. This means that you, as owner, often do the same. Together, you and your dog explore the world and get outside – and burn a fair amount of calories. Many dog owners get 30 minutes or more of exercise each day.
A longer life
No, this isn’t too good to be true! Just last year, TIME reported that, “according to a new study of more than 3.4 million people, owning a dog is linked to a longer life. The research, published in Scientific Reports, is the latest in a growing body of research suggesting that canine companions may be good for human health—especially for people who live alone.”
The studies were especially interesting for people who live alone. Those folks had a 33 percent reduced death rate when living with a dog. Researchers have speculated that increased exercise – and even just the act of duty and responsibility to care for an animal – results in longer life spans.
Better mental health
Depression. Bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia. Anxiety. Dogs help combat all of these by offering a feeling of stability and enhanced meaning. Better yet, it all can start in childhood, so the earlier exposure the better.
Dogs are like furry, walking ice breakers. Ever go to a dog park and not talk to another dog owner? It’s rare, right? Dog owners are naturally drawn to other dog owners. And now there is some evidence that owning a dog serves as a launchpad for forming new friendships. After all, it’s easy to befriend others when you see them regularly and you have an easy source of conversation topic.
Of course, there are many other benefits to owning a dog – they’re your family! It’s not a relationship that can be summed in one article. But these are just a few of the fascinating ways in which dogs joyfully enhance our lives.
This is a guest post by Joanna Furlong, Director of Content for Scollar
Joanna Furlong is Director of Content for Scollar, maker of the world’s first smart dog collar. One dog collar can control every aspect of your dog’s life: feeding, gathering medical data, tracking and much more. She lives in San Diego, California.